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Newcomers Living in Ottawa Share Their Canadian Immigration Stories

There are many reasons Canada is the destination of choice for many immigrants.

However, there is no denying that arriving in a new country and starting a new life is full of challenges.

Highlighted below are stories of four Canadian immigrants who settled in the Ottawa-Gatineau area.

Diego Alcubierra (Mexico)

Diego, an entrepreneur, admits that Ottawa, Canada, was on their list of destinations for several years.

He decided to move to Ottawa with his wife and two children before the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

Before relocating to Canada, Diego and his family lived in Queretaro, where he operated a business that supports solar industry startups.

He said that Queretaro had a similar size to Ottawa and offered nearly the same lifestyle.

Therefore, he planned to open a tech company specializing in runner’s training and events.

Unfortunately, Diego got the news that their Canadian visa had been rejected a day before leaving for Canada.

The family did not lose hope, but instead engaged Invest Ottawa and got a Canadian immigration lawyer to assist them in applying for a visa to Canada on a different program.

They arrived in January 2020, 15 days before the government announced the first lockdown.

He says that his family has adjusted to their move to Canada, his business is doing great, and they are looking forward to getting permanent residency.

He advises business people who want to immigrate to Canada to connect with Invest Ottawa.

He says the organization welcomed him into a program that supports entrepreneurs building tech startups.

Kevin Nyembo (Congo)

Kevin Nyembo originally hailed from Congo and moved to Ottawa in 2009.

Before moving to Canada, Nyembo and his brother lived in Uganda in 2003 following a civil war in Congo.

Fortunately, his other brother was living in Canada, and that is how the two brothers found their way to the city.

While he faced various challenges, Nyembo says that he met many friendly people and had a good experience in the city.

He got his first job in Canada as a security guard and worked 12-hour overnight weekend shifts.

Along with his security job, he also did full-time studies to become a personal support worker.

Fortunately for him, he found a job supporting the jobless and individuals struggling with addiction even before he graduated.

Currently, Nyembo is a supervisor at the same company.

Since the third brother living in Canada could only sponsor two people, Nyembo had to make the hard decision of leaving her pregnant wife and two children, who were 10 and 3, behind.

Although it was difficult, Nyembo says that one has to make hard choices to promote a better future.

After staying in Canada for three years, he managed to bring his family, and they settled in Gatineau, Quebec, an area with a vibrant Congolese community.

The couple has two more children.

When asked about his advice to new entrants to Canada, Nyembo says that being bilingual can be an added advantage.

He suggests learning English, or French, or both before relocating to Canada.

He also advises newcomers to be an example in their community and have the Canadian mindset of doing whatever they set out to do.

Mina Al-rubaye (Iraq)

Mina came to Canada from Iraq in 2014 to pursue a degree in accounting abroad, arriving with her younger brother and sister.

Towards the middle, she returned to Iraq for a visit and married her husband.

Although Mina says that the community is very welcoming, she doesn’t feel settled far from her husband.

Mina graduated and found work in Canada as an accountant through her connection at network events.

She is now a permanent Canadian resident and has sponsored her husband for permanent residency. The application process is ongoing

Inga Bohnekamp (Germany)

Inga Bohnekamp, a wife and mother, decided to move to Ottawa from Berlin, Germany, nine years ago.

In Ottawa, Inga planned to become a child and youth counselor, while her husband planned to launch a tech company.

Being an adventurous person, Inga says that she liked the challenge of going to a new place and meeting new people.

Therefore, she and her husband applied for a work permit for two years.

Unfortunately, her psychology qualifications from Germany were not recognized in their new country of residence.

Following this, Inga opted to start mindfulness and yoga programs aimed at helping youths at CHEO battling chronic illnesses, mental health challenges, and eating disorders.

Inga says that her daughter, who arrived in Canada while she was just three, had difficulty adjusting to the new setting and new language.

While it was not easy, the family finally adjusted to living in Canada and they became permanent residents after renewing their first Canadian visa.

For Inga, the most vital advice for newcomers thinking of immigrating to Canada is to pursue the permanent resident option first. She says that extending the temporary Canadian visa prevented her family from feeling settled.

Additionally, Inga believes that it would be helpful for immigrants to connect with community groups that support immigrants.

For instance, the Catholic Center for Immigrants program supports medical professionals who want to transition to a new career, but can’t get their license.

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